Reflections

Tuesday in the 34th Week of the Year, November 23, 2021

TAKE CARE NOT TO BE MISLED
Introduction
In a time of unrest in the Church, with our search for living our faith in a renewed way, the readings of today bring us a message of hope and trust. Kingdoms built without God will decay, destroy one another, and be ultimately replaced by God, the Lord of history, with God’s indestructible kingdom. This is the message of the Book of Daniel to the persecuted Jews.
Jesus speaks of times of trials, directly of the fall of Jerusalem, which is a symbol of the end time. We may not forget that for us here and now the time of judgment is now: we prepare it now, we undergo, or better, create it now, by the way we live individually and as a community. “Do not be misled,” says Christ. In other words, his message is meant to shake us, to wake us up to live the Gospel now.
 
Opening Prayer
Lord our God,
our faith is not a quiet possession
of the truth and of rites
that may give us security.
Make us realise that it is tested
and that you call us
to be credible witnesses
in our time and our situation
of the passion and resurrection of your Son.
Give us your Holy Spirit
to guide us and to keep our hope alive
that Jesus is our Lord
and you our God for ever. Amen!
 
1 Reading: Daniel 2:31-45
Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar: “In your vision, O king, you saw a statue, very large and exceedingly bright, terrifying in appearance as it stood before you. The head of the statue was pure gold, its chest and arms were silver, its belly and thighs bronze, the legs iron, its feet partly iron and partly tile. While you looked at the statue, a stone which was hewn from a mountain without a hand being put to it, struck its iron and tile feet, breaking them in pieces. The iron, tile, bronze, silver, and gold all crumbled at once, fine as the chaff on the threshing floor in summer, and the wind blew them away without leaving a trace. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. “This was the dream; the interpretation we shall also give in the king’s presence. You, O king, are the king of kings; to you the God of heaven has given dominion and strength, power and glory; men, wild beasts, and birds of the air, wherever they may dwell, he has handed over to you, making you ruler over them all; you are the head of gold. Another kingdom shall take your place, inferior to yours, then a third kingdom, of bronze, which shall rule over the whole earth. There shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron; it shall break in pieces and subdue all these others, just as iron breaks in pieces and crushes everything else. The feet and toes you saw, partly of potter’s tile and partly of iron, mean that it shall be a divided kingdom, but yet have some of the hardness of iron. As you saw the iron mixed with clay tile, and the toes partly iron and partly tile, the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. The iron mixed with clay tile means that they shall seal their alliances by intermarriage, but they shall not stay united, any more than iron mixes with clay. In the lifetime of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people; rather, it shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and put an end to them, and it shall stand forever. That is the meaning of the stone you saw hewn from the mountain without a hand being put to it, which broke in pieces the tile, iron, bronze, silver, and gold. The great God has revealed to the king what shall be in the future; this is exactly what you dreamed, and its meaning is sure.”
 
Responsorial Psalm: Daniel 3:57, 58, 59, 60, 61
R. (59b) Give glory and eternal praise to him.
 
“Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever.” R.
 
“Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever.” R.
 
“You heavens, bless the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever.” R.
 
“All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever.” R.
 
“All you hosts of the Lord, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.” R.
 
Alleluia: Revelation 2:10c
Alleluia, alleluia.
Remain faithful until death,
and I will give you the crown of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
 
Gospel: Luke 21:5-11
While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here – the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”
 
Commentary
Many of the accounts in Daniel are legendary in character. The book comes to us from the time of Antiochus Epiphanes’ reign (167-164 BC), even though the literary setting is the time of Nebuchadnezzar in the sixth century. Daniel interprets the vision of Nebuchadnezzar in terms of the kingdoms that extended from his time down to the time of the Hellenists: Babylon (gold), the Medes (silver), the Persian (bronze), and the Hellenists (iron). The last kingdom was divided between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids. The latter were persecuting the Jews at the time of the book’s composition. The stone hewn from the mountain is the messianic kingdom; it will see the other kingdoms crumble and will be the only one to endure.
In the Gospel, Jesus speaks of other apocalyptic moments: the destruction of the temple and the coming of the kingdom. The former has already taken place when Luke’s Gospel is written. Jesus does not specify the time of the final era and the con-summation of all things. There will be wars and upheaval before the final time, as well as signs from the heavens. Christians must be ever alert.
The one clear message from today’s readings is that better days are coming. As Christians we cannot live with a depressed spirit. The universe ultimately belongs to God, and while we may become impatient with his enduring patience, we have to believe that the final word will be his. We are often disturbed by the extent to which people are made to suffer and die at the hands of evil perpetrators. God’s gift of free will can sometimes lead to dreadful consequences. Freedom often takes a frightful toll. But what the scriptures make very clear is that the end of history rests in God’s hands.
 
Intercessions
– For the Church of Jesus Christ, that its faith, trust and love may not waver in the difficulties and storms of our time, we pray:
– For those who doubt their faith or are afraid of the future, that God may give them courage and that we may refresh one another’s hope, we pray:
– For a world in the grip of war and violence, of dishonesty and abuse of power, that people of integrity and vision may draw inspiration from the Gospel to lead the world back on the road of peace and love, we pray:
 
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
as you will sanctify this bread and this wine
and change them into Jesus, your Son,
let the power of your Holy Spirit
change us into people
imbued with the mentality of Jesus Christ.
Make us more like him,
that we may live for one another
and have nothing to fear
when you call us to you,
our God, for ever and ever. Amen!
 
Prayer after Communion
Lord our God,
in this Eucharist, you have given to us
the word and the body of your Son.
Do not allow us to be misled
by anyone who speaks an easy message.
Let our only sure guide be
he who is our way and truth and life,
our hope and our resurrection,
Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
 
Blessing
We are people of hope. We shouldn’t bother about the question when the end of the world will come but live as people who know that they have to be responsible Christians every day. If we do this, there is no reason for fear. May Almighty God keep you safe and bless you, the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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